What literary elements are used in Act 5, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream ?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The scene consists largely of a play within a play. In order to pass the rest of the night Theseus and Hippolyta have the workmen perform a version of the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. The entertainment that is produced is intended to be like a masque, the type of courtly festive play popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

In this case the play-within-play format becomes a kind of parody or satire. The players give a clumsy, comical performance of a story from mythology about the tragic deaths of two lovers. Shakespeare seems to be satirizing not only the genre of the masque, but the Pyramus and Thisbe story itself, and perhaps by extension, the situations that typically occur in ancient myth. Theseus and Hippolyta are amused by the performance and make comical observations during it.

On one level the action of the scene is self-referential. Having the players enact a separate play inside, so to speak, the main one is a device typically used in the Elizabethan theatre (the most...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 719 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team